A guide for what to do in Aberdeen can help to ensure you see all the magic this bustling place has to offer. As the third largest Scottish city, often nicknamed ‘The Granite City’, this location is far from dreary. Stone buildings sparkling in the sunlight. The sea within driving distance. It's a mesmerising affair. Discover all the best places you need to stop at with our guide to Aberdeen from a local on the ground.
Included in our what to do in Aberdeen guide:
Museums to inspire you. Open gardens to spark creativity. Menus to leave you full for days. This is our top local guide for what to do in Aberdeen. Revel in all that is wonderful about this city, including:
Once you’ve ticked off all our guides' attractions for the city, why not hop on board a small-group tour departing from Aberdeen? You can take a trip to the Highlands. Sample smooth Speyside Whisky in its natural habitat. Or maybe the tales of Loch Ness are more your thing? Our range of Scotland tours can satisfy your travel itch.
Rain often shows its soggy face over Scotland’s skies. So, when this happens, kick off the day with a trip to the museum. Begin your exploration of the city by investigating a guide to Aberdeen’s past, people, and culture.
First on our what to do in Aberdeen guide, step back in time with a trip to The Gordon Highlanders Museum. A keen interest in military history isn’t a requirement for you to enjoy this venue. . With interactive displays and diverse exhibitions, The Gordon Highlanders Museum attracts a wide range of visitors each year.
Be sure to stop by the WWI trench exhibition. It's particularly fascinating, allowing everyday folk to experience what life was like in these dismal and dangerous fortifications.
Guide to visiting The Gordon Highlanders Museum: Open 10:00 until 16:30, Tuesday through to Saturday. Our local guide to Aberdeen recommends buying your tickets in advance to secure your place.
Located close to the busy harbour, next on our what to do in Aberdeen list is the Maritime Museum. There’s an inseparable link between Aberdeen and the sea. Shipping is in the people’s blood. So it wouldn’t be right to have a list without mentioning this free attraction. The Aberdeen Maritime Museum tracks the city’s industry and outlines the drama and intrigue of life on the North Sea. There’s a focus on fishing and the more modern pursuits of oil and gas exportation. Here you can also learn about the art of shipbuilding and discover how many Aberdonians got their ‘sea legs’. There’s a fantastic view of the harbour out of the wide glass windows too.
Guide to Aberdeen’s Maritime Museum: Open 10:00 until 17:00 Monday to Saturday. Sunday hours include 11:00 until 16:00.
Aberdeen is well-known for its intriguing architecture and rich history. But it’s also home to colourful street art. Ancient and contemporary design sits side by side in this vibrant city. And one of the best ways to appreciate Aberdeen’s growth is to take a wee walk around its streets. Let our Aberdeen local guide highlight the top four places for Scottish culture.
In Old Aberdeen stands St Machar’s Cathedral. Many locals believe this is the resting place of William Wallace’s left arm. Whether the story is true or not, makes for an exciting addition to our what to visit in Aberdeen. The Cathedral itself is certainly worth a visit if only to peer up at its heraldic ceiling or colourful stained glass windows. As one of the oldest active buildings in Aberdeen, Christians have visited this site for over 1,500 years and masses are still conducted here today.
When to visit Aberdeen’s St Machar’s Cathedral: Open daily 10:00 until 16:00.
While you’re in Old Aberdeen, make sure you don’t miss a photo opportunity at Brig O’Balgownie. The picturesque 13th-century bridge is rumoured to have been completed by none other than Robert the Bruce. When the water below is still, the bridge is perfectly reflected in the water, making it a tranquil escape on our what to see in Aberdeen guide.
When wandering around Old Aberdeen make your way down The Esplanade. You’ll be rewarded with more modest architecture in the small fishing village of Footdee. Stroll into an area of the city filled with quaint fishing cottages and cobbled lanes. It’s a picture-perfect destination. You’ll also find some of Aberdeen’s best seafood restaurants here.
As you meander through Aberdeen’s streets, you’ll encounter beautiful murals and carefully curated street art. Use tools such as Street Art Aberdeen to guide you through the unique creations.
Need a breather? There’re plenty of green spaces in the city where you can sit down and mull over everything you’ve seen and learnt about so far. Save our what to do in Aberdeen guide for when you’re on the go to recap or plan your next steps.
Our next stop on our guide to Aberdeen is Johnston Gardens. A lush wonderland of blooming flowers and bubbling streams. In summer, the heady fragrance of plants can renew the spring in your step, while the sun bakes on your skin. Stop to watch the bumblebees busy at work and admire the charming scenery around you.
When to visit Aberdeen’s Johnston Gardens park: open daily 8:00 until 1 hour before dusk.
Sightseeing can work up an appetite. The good news is, our guide is well-equipped to satiate your hunger. Discover locally brewed beers and fresh seafood straight off the boat in award-winning establishments.
Moonfish Café offers the flavours of fine dining in an unpretentious atmosphere. It’s a solid choice for local seafood and fresh, seasonal produce. Located amongst winding mediaeval streets and with a view of a 12th-century kirk (church), the setting is a little romantic too.
Our Aberdeen guide recommends booking, as this restaurant is popular with locals and tourists alike.
Our what to do in Aberdeen guide wouldn’t be complete without indulging in a tipple at BrewDog. This iconic Scottish beer originated just up the road in Fraserburgh. They opened its first craft beer bar in Aberdeen in 2010, and it’s been on our list ever since. The brand is now an international success with an award-winning IPA and bars worldwide. So, take a seat, order your favourite beer or try a new small batch brew. There’s such a variety on tap, you’re sure to find something to tickle your fancy.
Our Aberdeen guide to Brewdog: Open:
Quaint villages, majestic Scottish castles, awe-inspiring coastal views, and vast national parklands. Our guide to Aberdeenshire hasn’t finished yet. This eastern wedge of Scotland is certainly worthy of an adventure a little off the beaten track. So pack your rucksack and be driven by curiosity, as we guide you through more things to see in Aberdeenshire.
A true Aberdeen and the surrounding area guide would not be complete without visiting a castle. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a Scottish castle with a more dramatic backdrop than Dunnottar Castle. Facing out to sea, its location has almost been lifted out of a fantasy book. Even though it’s mostly ruined, there are still dungeons, nooks and crannies for guests to explore. While exploring this fortress, you may hear the sinister wind whistle through the roofless rooms. Paired with black clouds rolling in from the sea, it's an experience you may have missed without our what to do in Aberdeen guide.
You can even visit Dunnottar Castle on the Rabbie’s Dunnottar Castle and Royal Deeside day tour from Aberdeen.
While not technically within the borders of Aberdeenshire, Cardhu Distillery is only a short day trip from Aberdeen. This warm-hearted spirit is well-known and beloved by many. Not to mention it's the first distillery pioneered by a woman, Helen Cumming. Today, Cardhu is the most important whisky in the Johnnie Walker Black Label.
You can visit Cardhu Distillery on the Rabbie’s Speyside Whisky Trail day tour from Aberdeen.
The Cairngorms National Park is home to some of the most magnificent scenery in Scotland. Flanked by towering mountains blanketed in heather, the landscape is both bleak and breathtaking. And not to be missed on our guide to Aberdeen and the surrounding area. As you weave through the small villages, you’ll become transfixed by the unique beauty of each trail. The winters may be harsh in such an elevated environment, but the hospitality is always warm.
Plan ahead to get the most out of your visit to Scotland. Even better still, book a small-group tour. You can visit the Cairngorms National Park on the Rabbie’s Dunnottar Castle and Royal Deeside day tour from Aberdeen.
Aberdeen’s lasting charm certainly continues to inspire exploration. And what better way to see the region than with a small-group tour led by knowledgeable driver-guides adding their unique spark around each corner. You will be seated in a comfortable 16-seat mini-coach, allowing you to absorb the landscape through the large open windows. Revel in stories passed through the generations. This is what makes travelling special.
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